Sunday, August 31, 2014

Silent Sunday 8-31-2014

Have a great day!!!! 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday Favorites from The Paris Apartment, Manger, Lil Luna, Traditional Home and More

Good morning! This weekend is Labor Day, the "unofficial" end to summer vacation. I honestly cannot believe that summer has come and gone and that Fall and then the holidays are just around the corner. Honestly, where does the time go?

Image The Paris Apartment

If you would like to have one last hurrah before the winter chill sets in you may want to visit The Paris Apartment to see The Perfect Paris Apartment that is for rent for the next three months. Can you imagine spending Fall whiling away your days visiting museums, sitting in cafes sipping chocolat chaud or a Kir Royale and then going back to this absolutely lovely place to spend quite evenings with your friends or just your sweetheart? It looks and sounds perfect to me. 

Image Traditional Home

While you are fantasizing about the gorgeous apartment in Paris check out this simply elegant house in Long Island. It belongs to the CEO of Anny Taylor and Loft and is featured in Traditional Home this month. It is one of my favorite houses that they have featured lately because it actually looks like a place a family lives and not just a show house. 

Image from Lil Luna

I LOVE chocolate chip cookies, OK I like the dough more than the cookies, but I love making chocolate chip cookies and bars. I think they are the perfect treat to take to a party or to drop off at a friends. This recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from Lil Luna looks like a delicious recipe to take to your Labor Day barbecue. I cannot wait to make these.

Image Manger

If you are like me, than you have been anxiously waiting for the the release of A Kitchen in France written by the incredibly talented blogger Mimi Thorisson. This week Mimi announced on her blog that if you pre-order the book you will receive one of three stunning prints. I do not know what is going to be the most beautiful about this book, the stunning photos, the recipes or the stories. Visit Manger to pre-order your copy today!

Photo Amazon

From the publisher:

He is a brilliant math Professor with a peculiar problem—ever since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory. 
She is an astute young Housekeeper—with a ten-year-old son—who is hired to care for the Professor. 
And every morning, as the Professor and the Housekeeper are introduced to each other anew, a strange and beautiful relationship blossoms between them. Though he cannot hold memories for long (his brain is like a tape that begins to erase itself every eighty minutes), the Professor's mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past. And the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the Housekeeper and her young son. The Professor is capable of discovering connections between the simplest of quantities—like the Housekeeper's shoe size—and the universe at large, drawing their lives ever closer and more profoundly together, even as his memory slips away.
Yoko Ogawa's The Housekeeper and the Professor is an enchanting story about what it means to live in the present, and about the curious equations that can create a family.

I read this book at the beach this week and loved it! Have you read it? Or any other books by Yoko Ogawa?

I hope that you have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend! Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Happy 10th Anniversary

“Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. You tell them things that you’ve never shared with another soul and they absorb everything you say and actually want to hear more. You share hopes for the future, dreams that will never come true, goals that were never achieved and the many disappointments life has thrown at you. When something wonderful happens, you can’t wait to tell them about it, knowing they will share in your excitement. They are not embarrassed to cry with you when you are hurting or laugh with you when you make a fool of yourself. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are. The things that seem insignificant to most people such as a note, song or walk become invaluable treasures kept safe in your heart to cherish forever. Memories of your childhood come back and are so clear and vivid it’s like being young again. Colours seem brighter and more brilliant. Laughter seems part of daily life where before it was infrequent or didn’t exist at all. A phone call or two during the day helps to get you through a long day’s work and always brings a smile to your face. In their presence, there’s no need for continuous conversation, but you find you’re quite content in just having them nearby. Things that never interested you before become fascinating because you know they are important to this person who is so special to you. You think of this person on every occasion and in everything you do. Simple things bring them to mind like a pale blue sky, gentle wind or even a storm cloud on the horizon. You open your heart knowing that there’s a chance it may be broken one day and in opening your heart, you experience a love and joy that you never dreamed possible. You find that being vulnerable is the only way to allow your heart to feel true pleasure that’s so real it scares you. You find strength in knowing you have a true friend and possibly a soul mate who will remain loyal to the end. Life seems completely different, exciting and worthwhile. Your only hope and security is in knowing that they are a part of your life.”

Bob Marley

My husband and I have been together for 20 years and married for 10, today is our anniversary. As I was contemplating this post I remembered this quote from Bob Marley and I think it says better than I can just how I feel about my relationship with my husband. 

Happy Anniversary to my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, my closest confidant and the love of my life. I love you William.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Teeny's Tour of Pie: A Cookbook + A Giveaway

If you have follow me for a bit than you know I love cookbooks and I love to bake. Recently I was sent a copy of Teeny's Tour of Pie: Mastering the Art of Pie in 67 Recipes written by Teeny Lamothe, owner of Teeny Pies in Washington, D.C., to review and to also to give away a copy to one of my readers. 

Pies have never been my strong point, the crust always eludes me, that is unless it is a graham cracker crust. Teeny Lamothe changed all that with this book. I made my first successful and I might add fabulous pie crust by following the recipe for Buttery All Purpose crust(recipe below). 

Mastering the the Art of Pie is a wonderful book chronicling the adventures of Teeny who wanted to learn the art of pie making. She decided to forgo pastry school and instead wrote an email to bakers around the country asking to come and be an apprentice. After several weeks with either no answer or a sincere apology declining her offer, Dani Cone owner of Seattle's High 5 Pies said yes, and then adventure began. 

The book is divided by season and filled with recipes for 10 no-fail pie crusts, and 67 sweet, savory, traditional and a few unexpected pie recipes too! I think you will love the recipes, profiles of other pie makers and the beautiful photography.

I made the Banana Cream Pie and Food Lion graciously provided my with all of the ingredients to make my perfect pie. The crust is flaky, and buttery and the perfect compliment to the sweet custard filling and bananas.

Banana Cream Pie
Recipe from Teeny Lamothe

1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons corn starch
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups while milk
4 medium egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 bananas

1 Batch Homemade whipping cream

1 Buttery All Purpose Crust Pre-baked


Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan with a wire whisk. Add the milk and the egg yolks, whisk again until there are no lumps.

Place the saucepan over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a low simmer and begins to thicken, about 7 minutes. Continue cooking and whisking, careful not to let the mixture scorch the bottom of the pan, for another 2 minutes, until the mixture begins to boil, Then boil and stirring for another minute.

Remove from heat, add the butter and whisk until butter is melted.

Either mix the bananas into the mixture or pour mixture into the pre baked pie shell and place bananas on top.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Then top with whipped cream.

Buttery All Purpose Crust
Recipe from Teeny Lamothe

21/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cups of cold butter cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup of cold shortening
1/4 cup of cold vodka
6 tablespoons cold water, extra as needed

In a large mixing bowl mix together the flour, salt,and sugar until combined. Add the butter and the shortening and cut the mixture together using a pastry blender of two knives, until the mixture resembles small pea-sized crumbs coated in flour.

Pour the vodka over the ingredients a few tablespoons at a time while using a rubber spatula to press the dough together. Add the water, and continue to press the dough together to form a large ball. The dough should be wet and sticky, if it needs additional water add it a tablespoons at a time. Be careful not to work the dough too much or the crust will become tough. 

If you would like to win a copy of this beautiful book, leave me a comment with your favorite pie and I will pick the winner at random on Friday.

I hope that you have a great day!

Note: I was given a copy of the book by Workman Publishing  and the ingredients by Food Lion. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Friday Favorites from Seven Spoons, Pure Joy Home, The Good Life and More

Good morning! Happy Friday! It has been a fabulous few days here, the sun has finally made an appearance. In fact it has been so scarce lately that I even took a few hours off work to go sit at the beach and enjoy the sun, sand and the breeze. 

This weekend I am taking it easy, my husband wants to relax, do a little grilling and read on the beach. If we can muster the energy we will take our our paddle boards. This week while trolling the web I found some "new to me" blogs, recipes and facts, these are a few of my favorites. 

Image Seven Spoons

My sister LOVES Morning Buns so I have been in search of a recipe that I can make when I see her over the holidays and I think I found it at Seven Spoons. Morning Buns for those of you who are not familiar are almost like a flaky croissant filled with sugar and spice, in fact the dough is very similar to croissant dough. 

Although summer is nearing the end I know that many have a plethora of vegetables from their gardens. If you happen to have a bunch of cucumbers then you should try this soup posted by Pure Joy Home. It is easy and delicious, I loved it!

Are you an ice cream fan? This week Buzz Feed posted 27 Ice Cream Shops You Need To Visit Before You Die. How many of these shops have you been to? I was actually surprised how many I had already visited!

Image The Good Life

I am always curious as to how other blog writers organize their posts. Do your write them ahead of time? Do you write them the night or the day before? Or are you incredibly organized and use an editorial calender? I have attended a few blogging classes and they all say a calendar is essential, after reading Why and How to Use an Editorial Calendar by the Good Life I may have to give it another try. 

I always enjoy reading Dumb Little Man and this weeks article 50 Ways to Strive for Excellence in Your Life is one of my favorite posts!

Image Pine Cones and Acorns

For all you Francophiles here are 30 Facts About France that you may or may not know. There were a few I did not know even after studying and visiting France for over 30 years. 

I hope that you found something new to you while visiting today and as always, if you have something to share I would love to hear about it!

Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to School Memories

Good morning! Yesterday was the first day back to school for my niece Gabrielle, and at a new school to boot. As her mom and I discussed her day I was reminded of so many of my own first days of school.

From kindergarten through high school I attended Catholic schools and part of our back to school schedule was the trip to the uniform store. We wore plaid jumpers with white shirts and knee socks until high school. I can tell you that a jumper, especially plaid, is universally unflattering for every body type, tall, short, skinng, or plump, everyone looks like a big tartan square.

Once we started high school, all girls, we wore skirts, white shirts and plaid skirts. About the only place you could show off your fashion sense was in your choice of socks or shoes. Believe me, there is still a competition to look cool in uniforms even if only to impress the other girls. 

Personally, I loved my uniform. It made it so easy to get up and get dressed in the morning. I never had to worry about what to wear or how I was going to look. Funny because when my niece changed schools to one with uniforms she made the observation that she would save an hour a day not having to think about what to wear!

In my formative years we moved every two years, so there were a lot of firsts day of school as the new kid. As I type this I think about the awkward feeling of standing in the front of the class and having to introduce myself yet again to a new group of kids, most of whom had been going to school together for years, all eyes on you giving you the once over. Thankfully we stopped moving when we started high school.

In life there are many of those same awkward moments, on your first day at your new job, the day you join a new club or a class, or when you step into a room of strangers at a party. Oddly, it never gets any easier for me and I always feel as if I am back in a room standing in front of a bunch of kids who are "taking my measure" as they say. Does anyone have any tips for making this easier? I would love to hear them!

Tell me, what are your memories of going back to school? What sort of school did you attend? Religious, public, private? What is your favorite memory of going back to school? 

I hope that you have a great day and for those of you frantically running around trying to fulfill the endless list of back to school supplies good luck!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Raspberry Banana Bread with Crumble Topping

Good morning! I hope that you had a fabulous weekend! Mine was relaxing; I spent the weekend reading and baking. Don't get me wrong I managed to do a few things around the house and a little work but for the most part it was me and my pups enjoying the fabulous summer weather. 

 Among the few things I made was banana bread. Although I frequently bake banana bread I had never thought to add raspberries until I had a few too many left at the end of the week. Do you ever have that problem? You buy all sorts of fruits and vegetables thinking that you are going to eat healthy during the week and end up eating other things instead? This recipe is the perfect place to use up extra berries. 

 Raspberry Banana Bread with Crumble Topping
Recipe adapted from Taste of Home

13/4 cups of all purpose flour
11/2 cups of sugar
1 tsp.  baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
2 eggs
3 mashed bananas
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup water
11/2 cups fresh  raspberries

Crumble Topping:

1/2 stick unsalted butter softened
11/4 cups of all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Combine flour and sugars in a bowl, add butter and mix with a pastry blender until little crumbs are formed. Set aside. 


Preheat oven to 350. Prepare two 8 x 4 loaf pans. Set aside. In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. In another bowl combine the water, oil, and bananas. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet and stir until just combines, then gently fold in the berries. 

Top with the crumble topping and bake for 55-65 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes then remove from pan and cool on wire racks. 

This banana bread is fabulous, it is moist, dense and has an extra special taste with the addition of the raspberries. I loved it! The only thing that would make it better is the addition of dark chocolate chunks. I think that may be my next loaf. 

What did you do this weekend? Did you enjoy good weather? Have any great adventures? Read any good books? Or make or bake anything interesting? 

Whatever you did I hope that you enjoyed yourself! Have a great week.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Friday Favorites from The Enchanted Home, My French Country Home, Creme de la Crumb and More

Happy Friday! I hope that you have had a great week. Mine was busy but also relaxing as my husband and I took the day off yesterday. It was the first sunny day in weeks, so we went stand up paddle boarding and then spent a few hours at the beach. It was so peaceful to float around on the water and then to sit in the sun and watch the water lap at the shore while reading a book.

Image Pine Cones and Acorns

This week my "favorites" are all over the place, from recipes, to shops, to job offers and more.

Image My French Country Home

My French Country Home written by Sharon Santoni is one of my favorite blogs to read each morning, not only because of the beautiful photos, cute dogs, wonderful loot shoots but also because Sharon is such a talented writer. Sharon is looking for an intern! If you are in your 20-30's and would like to spend 2 or 3 months in the countryside of Normandy helping Sharon with her social media presence, click HERE.

Image The Enchanted Home

Tina of  The Enchanted Home has redesigned her fabulous blog and online store and this week she launched her tole line. This beautiful line of trays, pots, lamps, etc was custom designed by Tina and each piece is more beautiful then the next. If you are looking for a special piece for your own home or as a gift visit Tina at her online store. 

Image Nine + Sixteen

In addition to sweets, anything wrapped in a tortilla is a favorite, especially if the recipe is quick and easy. Tessa of Nine + Sixteen posted a recipe this week for Korean Beef Tacos with Mango Slaw. I cannot wait to try this recipe!

Image Creme de la Crumb

Is there anything better than a brownie stuffed with peanut butter cups, topped with a chocolate chip, oatmeal cookie layer? I don't know but I will be trying this recipe from Creme de la Crumb this weekend so I will let you know!

Image Amazon

This week I read Rosewater and Soda Bread while sitting a the beach. For a change I am hoping to see a few movies this weekend. Do you have any suggestions?

I hope that you found something new here and if you have a link to share I would love to hear about it! Have a wonderful weekend! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cabin Fever

Good morning! I am sure that I have said this at least ten times in the past few weeks but I simply cannot believe that it is the middle of August! Summer seems like a blur to me and although I did get to tick off many of the items from my summer fun list the one I have yet to do is to spend time at a cabin.

Image Pine Cones and Acorns

I spent a great deal of my life in the Midwest where many families, mine included had a lake house or a cabin. My family had a log cabin with a wrap around porch, on a bluff overlooking a lake, created when the glaciers receded during the ice age.  Many happy weekend were spent there relaxing, boating, sitting by the fire and just doing nothing. 

Image Pine Cones and Acorns

I miss that house and I miss those happy times with my family. The good news is I still have all of the wonderful memories.  Although summer is not over yet I am not sure that I will be spending anytime at a cabin but if I was here is what I would like.

Image Mr. & Mrs. Globetrot via Pinterest

A cute little place situated on the banks or a river or a lake. 

Image from Rocky Mountain Log Homes via Pinterest

With a large porch and comfy chairs heaped with pillows and throws to while away the hours talking and reading. 

Image Pine Cones and Acorns

A little dingy or a canoe would come in handy to row out to see the native birds or to cast a line. 

Image Pine Cones and Acorns

A few Adirondack chairs pulled up to the shore

Image Pine Cones and Acorns

To drink some cocoa in the morning 

Image Pine Cones and Acorns

Or to make some S'mores at night!

Image Pine Cones and Acorns

A cosy bed to rest my head.

Image from Trendier via Pinterest

And family and friends to make the time spent there perfect!

What do you think? Does a few days relaxing at a cabin sound good to you? Do you have any suggestions of beautiful cabin rentals?

I hope that you have a great day and that you enjoy what is left of summer.

P.S:  One of my favorite bloggers Lindsey from Pinch of Yum frequently spends time with her family at cabins in Wisconsin and Minnesota, this year they visited the cutest cabin at Lake Pipin. If you are not familiar with her blog or this post check it out!

And if you missed my Cabin Fever post from last year, click HERE.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Homemade Balsamic Glaze and Heirloom Tomatoes

Good morning! How was your weekend? Mine was busy, I felt as if I did not sit to relax until Sunday evening. No matter, I still managed to try a few recipes and to read a bit. The weather was grey, grey and more grey. We were supposed to get rain but not a drop fell. 

As I said last week, I am trying to savor every minute of summer, which is actually strange for me because I normally am not a huge fan of summer. I think because I experienced the never ending winter this past year I have been seeking a little warmth. Not to mention that although we have had some hot humid days, for the most part we have had a mild summer, compared to many others. 

The farmers markets are bursting here with zucchini, tomatoes, peaches, and more so I am taking advantage of the fresh food and enjoying some very simple meals.

One of my favorites is simply fresh tomatoes with balsamic glaze and fresh crusty bread. I know that you can buy balsamic glaze but I like to make my own because it is too easy not too.

Balsamic Glaze

2 cups quality balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons of brown sugar

Place vinegar and sugar into a pan over medium heat. Stir to combine, bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer. Stir the mixture constantly while it is simmering until the glaze coats the back of your spoon and mixture is reduced by half. 

Pour into a jar and enjoy on salads, meats, cheese, ice cream etc. 

Did you make anything simple, easy and delicious this weekend? Or did you take it easy and let someone else do the cooking? Whatever you did I hope that you enjoyed it. Summer is slipping away, make sure to get out their and enjoy it!

Have a great day!